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Charges dropped over Havelock North wells

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/12/2016 Sean Martin

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council has backed down on its prosecution of the Hastings District Council over bore well heads following the Havelock North gastro outbreak.

Instead it will issue infringement notices against the council over its failure to maintain the two well heads - which supplied the town's water - properly, and the district council agreed it wouldn't contest them.

Both councils agreed on the settlement this week, saying the infringement notice was solely related to taking water from the bores and not related to August's water contamination, which led to more than 5000 people falling ill to campylobacter.

It didn't indicate or rule out the well heads being the cause of the contamination, the councils said.

Both also said the source of the outbreak would be determined by the government inquiry.

"The most important factor in the public interest is to determine the cause of the contamination, and to ensure there is no repeat of what happened in August 2016, which affected so many people," a joint statement said.

The regional council laid the charges against its district council counterpart last month, alleging a lack of maintenance allowed contaminated water into the aquifer below the bores.

It sparked an angry response from Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule about the timing of the charges.

He accused the regional council of reaching conclusions on untested evidence ahead of the government's inquiry, which started on Monday.

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